Mental Health is no longer a dirty secret – it’s a topic which finally grabs everyone’s attention as we begin to better understand the importance of it and the impact it can have on our lives.
Today is World Mental Health day, so I wanted to share some simple tips for overcoming and preventing mental health obstacles.
We’re all unique and our mental health struggles reflect that – for me, the biggest obstacle I had to overcome was anxiety which in turn led to an eating disorder. I never felt good enough, thought I was ugly, fat and unloved so I punished myself by developing an eating disorder trying to achieve the perfect body which I now know doesn’t exist.
When going through these struggles, I felt that I couldn’t talk to anyone about how I felt or what was going on in my head. Bottling up all these negative feelings had a massive impact on my through my teenage years and even into my adult life – it’s something I have to overcome on a daily basis. What’s changed is that I’ve learnt how to manage these feelings and little by little, I’ve shifted my mind into a much more positive space.
Here are my top tips on what works for me when it comes to mental health:
- My number one must be EXERCISE. I have always been active but around three years ago I fell in love with fitness. The feeling I get when I am in one of my favourite classes is just surreal. Even if I feel rubbish before starting, I go and push myself to the limit because the feeling I get after is unreal… I feel like a new person. Exercise melts away my frustration and helps me release all my negative energy. When I’m in a class I focus on getting the most out of it and all my stress, worries and thoughts from the day just melt away – it really is the best feeling! From going to regular classes, I’ve met like-minded friends who have supported me on this journey. My favourite fitness classes are Body Attack (great cardio), Body Pump (great for shaping and building your muscles) and of course, stretching by doing Body Balance or Yoga which I must try properly one day. I genuinely exercise 4-6 times a week and it’s just amazing.
2. My number two must be maintaining a HEALTHY LIFESTYLE. My eating habits changed 4-5 years ago and it was honestly the best decision I ever made. Healthy and nutritious food puts a big smile on my face, I feel completely satisfied and it has the added bonus of having a positive impact on my health in general. It just shows that food can have a huge impact on our moods and genuinely us as a person. I enjoy coming up with new recipes and love to see other people trying my recipes and giving their body and mind a more balanced life. Don’t get me wrong, as I say, everything is good in moderation and it’s important to have fun, but it’s also important to know how to get back good habits which have a positive impact.
3. My number three must be MEDITATION. I have only been meditating for a month or so, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. So many people recommended it to me to help me maintain a positive mind-set and put negative thoughts to bed. At first, I must confess I found it a bit weird – I struggled to get my head around it. But, after a few sessions – I find my zen and now I meditate almost every morning before work! It gives me a great boost and helps be start the day feeling like anything is possible and feeling grateful for everything that I have. I use HEADSPACE – it’s really helped me to get started and the guy has such a calm, soothing voice.
4. My number four must be TALKING. Getting older, I’ve realised more and more that talking is the most powerful tool in life when it comes to family, relationships, work, feelings and more. If you keep everything in your head all the time, then your mind can literally go crazy overthinking everything again and again. Circling thoughts have a negative impact of your mood and distract you from what’s really important in the here and now. It’s important to have someone who you can trust and who will be there to simply listen and give you an advice when necessary. And again, I am not a master when it comes to talking and am still learning how to express myself before it becomes too much and I explode with emotion. For me, the hardest thing to overcome was that it’s OK to show emotion – it’s not a sign of weakness. If you don’t communicate how you feel – no one will ever know or have a chance at understanding your point of view. It’s ok to cry, we all go through the ups and downs in life but just TALK, as you are not ALONE. A problem shared is a problem halved after all.
5. My number five must be NATURE. I just love nature and everything about it, especially when it’s sunny. Nature is a gift and we should start treating it with respect. Every time, I go for walk my mind is fresh and clear of negative thoughts. I just simply love the smell of nature and how it can uplift our spirit and give us sooo much good. If you struggle to find time to fit in a gym session, just take 10 minutes out of your day to go for a walk and enjoy the moment right here, right now.
So, these are my top things which I try to follow, and which help me to fight those mental health challenges. I am a very good listener, so if there is something you are going through right now and want to talk then you know where to find me. I am here for you, to listen without judgment.
In summary, I just want to say don’t be harsh on yourself, love yourself, it’s OK not to be OK. Be kind, be supportive and just listen, as you never know who is suffering, mental health is often an invisible disease. And, as per Katie Piper’s post this morning, YOUR MIND IS YOUR HOME .
Lots of love